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Tarantula nebula, optical image

Tarantula nebula, optical image

R560/0470

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Credit

ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Tarantula nebula, optical image. Also known as 30 Doradus and NGC 2070, the Tarantula nebula is an emission nebula spanning nearly 1000 light years across. Two bright clusters of stars are seen here. The star cluster R136 (centre) is only 2-3 million years old, and its hot young stars are ionising the hydrogen gas in the nebula, creating a red glow. Powerful winds from these stars sculpt the nebula, producing its characteristic shape. The other cluster, Hodge 301 (lower centre) is 20 million years old, and holds supernova remnants. The Tarantula nebula lies about 170 thousand light years from Earth, within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) in the constellation Doradus.

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